Blunt will name panel to study eminent domain issues: Jefferson City (MO) News Tribune, 6/27/05

Gov. Matt Blunt said Monday he'll name a special, nine-member task force to study federal and state eminent domain laws.

Those laws allow governments to condemn and pay for private property when there's a strong public policy reason.

The governor's announcement came four days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week against homeowners in Connecticut, who wanted the court to prevent their homes from being taken by a private developer for a commercial project.

"This is a terrible ruling that undermines the balance that ought to exist between private property owners and the needs of the public," Blunt said in a news release. "I am charging this commission with conducting a thorough review of federal and state eminent domain laws to protect Missouri home, farm and business owners from falling victim to a government tax grab."

Blunt said his Missouri Task Force on Eminent Domain also will be charged with issuing criteria to be applied by state and local governments, when eminent domain is being proposed.

The task force also is to recommend any needed law changes for protecting private property owners.

"I believe eminent domain can be an appropriate tool under certain circumstances," Blunt said. "But it should not be used as a means to take property from responsible owners when no clear public interest exists."

Terry Jarrett, Blunt's general counsel, will serve as chairman. The panel will exist only until Dec. 31.

Jefferson City News Tribune: www.newstribune.com